Imagine the impact on the United States if Christians here were known – first of all — for being people of action

Caution: activity does not equal effectiveness.

Many Christians and churches are busy, busy, busy:  elders meetings, fellowships, teas, seminars, bible studies, retreats, revivals, accountability groups, small groups, home groups, growth groups, recovery groups…

Are we effective?

Is the Kingdom of God advancing, in our lives and in our cities?

The Willow Creek Association’s groundbreaking Reveal Survey said “no”.  Church activity does not correlate to maturity in Christ, or the effective evangelization of our cities.

To test the religious activities that vie for your congregation’s attention, consider two questions:

1. Who is this for?

Most church activity benefits only Christians.  Yet, Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, famously said: “The church is the only organization that exists primarily for the benefit of its non-members.”

We may say our meetings, groups, classes, and retreats are primarily for guests. With frighteningly few exceptions, they’re not.

2. How does this advance God’s Kingdom?

By “God’s Kingdom” we mean the unencumbered reign and rule of Christ.  Consider how much of what we do, has so little to do with that.

Study your church calendar.  For every class, gathering, service, and meeting, see if you can determine any specific Kingdom-advancing outcomes that were achieved.

You might consider:

Was good news preached to the poor?

Did the imprisoned find freedom?

Was sight restored to the blind?

Were the oppressed freed?

Was the Lord’s favor proclaimed and actualized?

These [Luke 4:18] are among the things Christ did as the Kingdom of God was advanced.

Consider the kinds of activity common in church today:

If pie was eaten while Christian women gossiped and church-going men griped about Obama, as churched kids played kickball in the fellowship hall, be honest enough to admit that no maturity-inducing discipleship took place. 

No one grew in Christ.

Nobody outside the church was ministered to.

Compare that to a team from Westside Christian Church. They regularly minister to people who’ve been forced by the brutal Southern California economy to live in RV’s, campers, or other temporary accommodations.  The Westside team throws BBQ’s (called “RVQ’s”), serves, loves, shares, feeds, helps, prays with, and encourages these amazingly resilient folks… who do not attend their church.  And, lives are changing.

Another team, from Chino’s New Hope Christian Fellowship, routinely dedicates time at a mobile home retirement community.  Intentionally, they are building redemptive relationships, forging friendships, demonstrating what it is to be good news to people who would otherwise have no contact with people devoted to love and serve them as Jesus might. Several times a month, team members serve residents, share their joys, fears, anticipations, and sorrows, honor them, and meet practical needs.  Their objective is not to bring these people into their church so much as it is to bring Jesus to them.

It’s working.

 

Coaching Distinctions #15